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MLB close to selling first World Series presenting sponsorship

MLB close to selling first World Series presenting sponsorship

By Terry Lefton, Staff Writer

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Major League Baseball is close to selling the first presenting sponsorship to its premier event, the World Series.

The anticipated deal for this year’s World Series comes after MLB sold presenting sponsorships to all of its playoff series for the first time.

T-Mobile, an MLB corporate sponsor since 2013, has now added presenting sponsorship of the two National League Division Series matchups. Korean conglomerate Doosan last week signed a sponsorship that included presenting status to the two American League Division Series matchups.

What licensees are rolling out for the MLB postseason: Majestic hoodies with a lighter feel.
Over the past few weeks, Camping World joined the fold, with a five-year deal that included presenting sponsorship of the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series.

Anheuser-Busch InBev sponsored the opening-round wild-card one-game playoffs in previous years, but not this season.

“For new partners, it’s important to give them something they can own, otherwise their message just doesn’t break through,” said Noah Garden, MLB executive vice president of business, declining to comment directly on a potential World Series presenting sponsor. Garden said postseason sales of MLB-owned media are “up and very strong” because of the new sponsors.

Leagues have sold media-oriented marketing packages granting similar rights, like Geico’s Stanley Cup Playoffs presenting sponsorship across NHL television rights holders. However, a top-shelf, league-controlled package adds valuable rights like venue signage, promotional rights and digital/social content.

So with sponsors looking for more value, how long will it be until similar packages are sold by the other stick-and-ball leagues?

“I’d expect every league to do this and every league to follow the NBA with jersey (advertising) logos,” said Rob McQueen, North America president at CSM Sport & Entertainment. “It’s got real value as far as cutting through the clutter and building affinity with consumers of those leagues when they are in the spotlight.”

As the postseason opens, activation plans among MLB’s expanding sponsor base are coming into sharper focus.

Taco Bell, which has a postseason-only MLB rights deal, is back for the sixth time with its popular “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion.

Anheuser-Busch InBev will have a large postseason media commitment, for its Budweiser brand as always, but the brewer also hopes to sell its “day fresh” beer on site at playoff venues, with six or so concession areas at each stadium. Digital, social and LED signage support the campaign. Since A-B has beer and branding in postseason locker room celebrations as part of its MLB rights, “we need to push out content with those celebrations almost in real time,” said Nick Kelly, senior director of experiential marketing at A-B. “Next day is too late.”

What licensees are rolling out for the MLB postseason: 59Fifty fitted caps with patches.
As always, A-B’s signature Clydesdales will make a World Series appearance. Additionally, the brewer is lining up retired “legends” from this year’s playoff teams and have them participate in brewing their own “World Series Lager.”

Coke, a new MLB sponsor as of April, has barely been visible this season with its new rights. However, Garden said “next year will be a big one for them.”

Starwood is again offering its frequency/loyalty members the opportunity for unique MLB experiences, and has added postseason batting practice and stadium tours.

Among MLB licensees, new postseason team hoodies from Majestic are said to be lighter and with better moisture management. New Era will again offer 59Fifty fitted caps with postseason side patches as each team clinches a division championship or postseason berth.


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